Secretary (2005): If you need a movie to watch to really get a sense of what domination and submission are really like, this is the best place to start, especially if the chains and whips freak you out. This movie is a much more intimate look at the power dynamic and the will and control of the submissive. Also, Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader are just excellent.

Your local sex shop: I love sex shop workers. They have seen it all, played with it all, and they know how it all works. Just like me and all the other professionals working in or on the fringes of the sex business, there's no reason to be shy around them. Always wanted to use a riding crop? Ask them which one is right for a beginner. Have questions about how to use things? They'll be more than happy to let you know. Once pain play gets involved, make sure you get the advice of a professional before you dive right in.

RELATED: Your kink glossary 101

Kink.com: Before I visited Kink.com, I kind of thought I had seen and known all there is to know about BDSM as a sex columnist. Boy, was I wrong. Yes, it is a porn site, but it is run by actual kink professionals who really know what they're doing. They cover everything from pre-play consent and discussion, and the actors are consent-aware as well, and the play runs the full gamut from very intense to pretty vanilla-friendly stuff.

Queerporn.tv: A little more inclusive than the all-hetero Kink.com, Queerporn.tv is a kink-positive, sex-positive, ethical porn company with a hugely broad spectrum of play and pairings. They also use real people to shoot their videos, so the orange, lithe, hairless bodies of porn's past are nowhere in sight, thank goodness.

The Ultimate Guide to Kink,

(by Tristan Taormino): This was consistently recommended to in kink forums, and seems to be a good primer on everything you need to know. For some people, it's most comfortable to ease into it by considering it "role play," which is thoroughly covered in this book.

RELATED: 50 shades of NOPE

50 Shades of NCSF: The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (www.ncsfreedom.org) has tons of great resources for the kink community, including a national directory of "kink-aware" professionals like physicians and attorneys. But the most relevant resource they have is this great page featuring links and articles aimed at Fifty Shades readers looking to get into the lifestyle. If you have questions about consent, safe play, or anything else you're curious about, this is a great straight-talking website that tells you everything you need to know. Go to their website and click on the "Resources" tab to find the 50 Shades page.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Wild Side Sex: The Book of Kink:

Educational, Sensual, and Entertaining

Essays by Midori

How to be Kinky:

A Beginner's Guide to BDSM

by Morpheous

The New Topping Book

by Dossie Easton & Janet Hardy

The New Bottoming Book

by Dossie Easton & Janet Hardy

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